We’ve come a long way in education.
My mom considered the TV a distraction, and I would have to turn it off to do my homework.
Now media seems to be an educator’s best friend.
But there are lots of resources out there, and you want the very best for your students.
We’re here to help. In this post, we talk about language teaching videos—videos that complement your classroom discussions and feature and explain an aspect of the target language.
These are videos you let your students view as a class or individually. Furthermore, you can watch these videos to develop and sharpen your own teaching skills.
How to Integrate Language Teaching Videos into Your Lessons
Open the lesson with a short video clip
Students feel comfortable with this medium, so use a language teaching video as a lead-in to your new lesson and you’re sure to get a positive response. It piques their interest and begins a new topic with a bang. A video just has that mystical draw.
Don’t worry if the video will cover things you’ll be talking about. Even better! If you’re able to pick one that features a fellow teacher who obviously knows her stuff, you can benefit from her expertise. Let her lay the groundwork for the topic so that when you teach the same concept, it’s not the first time students get to process the information. This will afford you more time to get deeper into the topic, focusing on sticking points.
You can also refer back to the video every now and then to emphasize important points. You can use the language teaching video as a jump off point for the things you really want to get into.
Use the video to illustrate a point
You can also use a language teaching video to drive home a point, ultimately making it more memorable.
Let’s say you’re discussing the different “rules to live by” when forming German plurals, and you to further the conversation by diving into exceptions to those rules. Well, you can include a language teaching video to do just that. By hearing the information from another teacher, the information is more likely to stick.
You can even set up the video by saying, “Now class, there are times when this specific rule isn’t observed. You’ll learn more about them in a video later.”
Or maybe you find a video with a teacher who’s obviously an expert. Why don’t you let the video do the hard work and focus your discussions around it? If you think it’ll serve your class best, then go for it. (Especially if the video contains cools graphics or visuals that you can’t do or present live.) If it takes your lessons to a whole new level, then integrate them into the classroom discussion.
Have them view the video as homework
In the last century, combining homework and videos seemed like a paradox. If you’re busy with one, you can’t get to the other.
Today there’s a whole industry of high-quality language teaching videos available 24/7. You might as well instruct your class to make use of them by assigning some as homework. Let students know that you’ll be studying a specific topic and either let them research and scour the net, or you can point them to specific videos they need to see out of class.
Again, this helps your students come to class prepared so that you can hit the ground running.
For topics you assign as homework, you need to give them guiding questions that’ll help them focus their attention when looking at language teaching videos. If you assign specific videos, give them questions related to the lesson and answer them in class.
Make a game out of the lesson
Making a game out of the video lesson turns passive watching into interactive learning. There are many ways to create games for your students out of any language teaching video.
You can take the vocabulary words discussed and integrate them in a vocabulary game like Pictionary.
You can also lift the phrases or sentences discussed and do a translation exercise. Games in the foreign language classroom are a great way to help students internalize information, and bringing both of these instructional tools together packs a powerful punch.
There are many other things you can do to make the class interact with the video—you can suddenly hit pause just as the teacher is about to give a French translation (let’s say, for paper). Instead of your class passively listening to the discussion, you let them supply or guess what the teacher will say next—as in “and class, the French word for paper is..?”
Another example of a way to ensure that students are actively listening to what’s being said is making them count the number of, say, Spanish verbs in a five-minute lesson. (Do this the second time they watch the video.) This little activity will really emphasize how important verbs are!)
Learn from the videos yourself
The previous four points talk about using the video as a tool with students.
Now let’s view them with a different set of spectacles. Previous discussions focus on you as a teacher. This time, you’ll be the student.
A language teaching video is not just for your class. It’s also for you. I repeat, the videos are also for you. You can’t watch them thinking, “Oh, I already know this stuff. I’ve been teaching this for 20 years!”
Well, that may be true, but there’s something else happening right before your eyes that goes beyond teaching the language. Don’t get so locked up in language content that you miss out on learning things from a fellow teacher.
Language teaching videos are wellsprings of insights. There’s always something to learn from others, no matter how long you’ve been in the field. You’re reading this blog, so I know that you believe in lifelong learning and will find this little reminder helpful.
One of the most underrated aspects of watching a language teaching video is looking for teaching insights from other fellow educators. So we’ll devote a whole section to this and be more clinical about it. Get ready, because we’re about to see the flip side of the coin. You’re the student this time.
Questions to Help Teachers Learn from Language Teaching Videos
Remember, every time a fellow teacher is front and center, like in language teaching videos, there are always teaching gems to find, things to learn that’ll make you an even better educator.
The questions that follow will help you, the teacher, watch language teaching videos with a purpose in mind. They turn your attention to things you otherwise might not have noticed.
Not every video you see will have a clear answer to all of the questions. For example, one of the questions is “What jokes, stories or cultural insights were used?” Sometimes you won’t find these in the video. In that case, you might ask yourself, “If that were me, how can I make the lesson better by adding some jokes and personal stories?”
The goal here isn’t to criticize your fellow teacher but to learn something new.
How did the teacher make the lesson relevant?
Students pay more attention when they know that language goals will be met. Smart teachers know this and frame the whole discussion from the get-go.
So you need to look and listen into how the teacher introduces the subject and provides the why for the lesson. What should the viewers know by the end of the video and why is it important?
If the video doesn’t give a sufficient objective for the video, then try to imagine ways to make it better. How will you hook the whole class from the get go? How will you frame it so that they are inspired to listen and take notice?
How did the teacher structure the lesson?
This is about the architecture of the discussion. For example, if the video is on how to form Spanish plurals, what grammar rule was given first and why? Look also into the sequencing of examples. How did the later examples build on the previous ones?
You need to listen carefully for this one because this part is very metacognitive. (Tip: Take notes.) The teacher might not tell you directly, “Okay, I’m tackling this first because it’ll set the next ones up…” It may not even be on their mind at all. Maybe they’re just going about it the way they know best.
The teacher has a rationale for teaching a topic that way. When you’re able to make out the structure of the lesson, you might be able to guess why they did it the way they did.
You may not fully agree with it, and their way might not be the “best.” And because nobody is perfect, you can find many things that can be improved. But as a lifelong learner, you can make it the starting point, pick the elements that resonate with you and come up with a teaching structure or sequence that you deem best for your class.
That beats watching passively any day.
What points were emphasized during the lesson?
Another thing you could look for are the points of emphasis in the lesson—these are ideas that the educator has deemed important, so you’ll want to pay close attention. Where does the focus of the discussion lie?
Three ways you can identify the emphasis is through repetition, duration and volume.
Repetition — What ideas do they keep coming back to again and again? Maybe their past experience tells them that this idea is where most students struggle, so they hammer it repeatedly.
Duration — What aspect of the topic does the teacher devote a longer time to? For example, in a Korean lesson comparing formal and informal greetings, does the teacher treat both equally? If not, then where does the emphasis lie?
Volume — You can hear from the teacher’s voice when something is stressed. They talk louder and gesture more. These things indicate that what’s being said at that very moment is important. If the teacher is a native speaker of the language he or she teaches, the emphasis may reveal the common mistakes they notice about second language speakers.
What was the teacher’s attitude and personality?
This is about what the teacher is like and how his or her personality sets the tone for the class. Different teachers have different approaches to the same topic.
For some, humor is the weapon of choice. They have lots of jokes and lots of laughs to help get their ideas across. Other teachers can’t tell the difference between a joke and a duck. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be effective educators. Great teachers come in many forms.
Others are “teacher-next-door” types that students can easily relate to. Their teaching style is casual and seem to have a really good relationship with their students. Some are more like facilitators and, instead of giving the answers, encourage and challenge students to think for themselves. All are great educators!
So expand your teaching repertoire. You don’t have to copy. You can be you and still be a great teacher. Notice the different personalities and attitudes of other teachers so that you see a range of different teaching approaches. Perhaps some day, when you feel like it, you can try out something you’ve picked up from a video.
What jokes, stories and cultural insights were used?
Jokes, stories and cultural insights are how lessons come alive. They make the lessons more interesting, engaging and, ultimately, worth remembering. Jokes bring a sense of levity to the whole lesson—learning a new language doesn’t have to be so serious. In fact, it can be quite fun.
Stories are great memory aids. They make the lessons easier to remember. And in the case of cultural insights, student learning becomes textured and enriched. For example, simply telling your Korean class that Koreans, unlike people in the Western world, say their last names first, is an enriching and enlightening addition to a lesson on greetings or meeting strangers.
Look for jokes, stories and cultural insights in the videos. And if there aren’t any, or if they’re few and far between, then imagine ways to work them into the lesson.
If it were you, how would you do it?
So, those are the questions you need to ask yourself when looking at videos. Since you’ll be watching them along with your students, you might as well learn something new, too.
7 Great Resources for Any Kind of Language Teaching Video
YouTube will always be the mother load of authentic content. You’ll find YouTubers all over the world encouraging others to speak their native language. You’ll find people like YangYang Cheng who can assist you with teaching your students Mandarin with her Yoyo Chinese channel.
Then there’s the effervescent George Trombley, whose Learn Japanese from Zero channel can instantly turn engagement up a notch in your classes. For Korean, you have Talk to Me in Korean (TTMIK), a team of millennials who can definitely level with your students.
YouTube also hosts plenty of teacher resources that discuss and demonstrate different teaching approaches. Sometimes you even get to “sit in” their classes and observe how other teachers go about their job. Check out Tesol Dpt, for example. Even if you don’t teach English, there’s lots of useful knowledge to be gained!
Or you can dive deeper into language proficiency standards and get other teaching tips by subscribing to the ACTFL channel.
With YouTube content exploding, you’ll never run out of resources!
If you want language learning videos on steroids, there’s FluentU. It takes an unassuming, authentic video like an interview, a music video or a news segment and turn it into language learning gold. How? With interactive captioning technology, your students will have all the tools they’ll need to understand what’s going on in the clip.
Not only will they see subtitles to a music video, but when they hover over any of the words they’ll get a whole lot of info that leads to mastery of that term—translation, pronunciation, usage examples and more!
The videos are a perfect partners for your classroom discussions. When you want language lessons to come alive with authentic and professionally-produced content, FluentU has your back all the way. There are clips that cater to all language levels from absolute beginners to advanced learners.
This is a massive language resource. Here you’ll find almost every type of language learning content, free—from free e-books and online courses to podcasts. Of course, they have videos from all over the internet, delivered to your students on a silver platter.
They’ll even find drills and exercises to practice. If you have homework in mind, check out the site to see what your class can learn at home.
For example, you’ll find Dr. Paola Rebusco’s Italian lectures, where she uses food and cooking as a starting point to learn the language. She melds together Italian culture and diet into learning conversational Italian. If you need inspiration on how to get more creative with your classes, you should definitely check her out.
Open Cultures covers not just major languages like Spanish, French and German, but they even have Ancient Greek, Cambodian and Catalan, totaling 48 languages.
The company is known for its high-quality content. With BBC joining the fray, your kids are sure to see top notch language material.
The BBC Languages site contains a host of vocabulary, pronunciation and grammar enhancing activities. But its most prized content are the acclaimed interactive video adventures that’ll immerse your students in the target language through a series of “in-character” experiences.
They’ll converse with locals, ask for directions, order a meal and meet somebody new. For example, the Spanish series entitled “Mi vida loca” (My Crazy Life) follows an exciting plot that takes students on a whirlwind experience around Madrid. It’s composed of 22 episodes of interactive videos that hone students’ listening, speaking and comprehension skills.
BBC covers French, Spanish, German, Italian, Greek, Chinese and Portuguese.
Innovative Language is best known for its “Language 101” courses. The company is prodigious in content production, so you won’t run out of videos to offer your class anytime soon.
As an example of what they offer, their FrenchPod 101 videos have a number of topical or thematic categories including: Top 25 (where they discuss the top verbs, nouns, phrases learners must know), Weekly French Words (which gives students a specific vocabulary set, like words related to food, family or travel), French in 3 Minutes (where the focus is on conversation) and Ask a French Teacher (which focuses on grammar).
Their featured teachers are often young, bubbly and never take themselves too seriously. The bite-sized videos come with cool text and graphics so that viewers can follow along. Innovative Language’s videos are perfect for absolute beginners and intermediate learners of 34 languages including Turkish, Urdu and Vietnamese.
And because videos aren’t just for your students, we include two resources specifically for the teacher on this list. Annenberg Learner is home to teacher development materials that cover the whole range of the curriculum—Arts, Foreign Language, Science, Mathematics, Literature, Social Studies and History.
One of the series you’ll find on the site is entitled “Teaching Foreign Languages K–12.” It’s a set of videos of the best practices for language teachers. This includes instructional strategies and activity ideas to increase your effectiveness as a language instructor.
For example, this “Chicken Pox” video let’s you in on how one teacher uses TPR (Total Physical Response) to teach new vocabulary. You’ll get to see the teacher and his students in action, observing what he does and seeing how students react to the activities. There are plenty of lessons and insights you can apply and adapt to your own instruction.
And if you want to know the state of research in foreign language education, they also have video workshops that let you in on some really helpful teaching techniques. For example, this video gives you glimpses of how teachers encourage interaction among their students. You’ll also learn how the different teaching approaches affect how your students interact with each other.
There are plenty of things teachers can learn from the site. Just come prepared to be a student once again.
I must say this one is quite unique from the other resources. While the others directly talked about language teaching in the classroom, this one deals with teaching in the general sense.
Its purpose is to help you integrate technology into your lessons by providing tips and tutorials on how to use software, the internet or gadgets to make your lessons resonate with your students. For example, it’ll teach you the effective ways of searching for images in Google to make your lesson more powerful.
As a language teacher, you’d be interested in the little sections entitled “Language Learning-Vocabulary” and “Language Learning-Listening.” This is a hodgepodge of curated sites and tools that will be of interest for you as a language educator, especially if your target language is English. For example, there’s a video that does an excellent overview of eight different pronunciation sites, comparing their features. You can assign these as practice for students or integrate them into your classes.
If you want to be the teacher that creates engaging lesson plans that resonate with today’s kids, you need what TeacherTrainingVideos.com has to offer.
So there you go! Now you have some awesome resources, ideas of how to integrate them into your classroom and a few ways to mine them for your own edification.
It’s now up to you to get going. So, what are you waiting for? Click “Play.” Language teaching videos are yours for the taking.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to teach languages with real-world videos.